“The snow had begun in the gloaming, and busily all the night had been heaping field and highway with a silence deep and white.” —James Russell Lowell
January…. In our neck of the woods, winter always brings blustery, cold days and snow, and a desire to curl up on the couch in front of the fire. Tom’s painting, “Amish Farm in Winter,” illustrates the stark reality of winter in Ohio. Cold. Peaceful. Barren. Beautiful. Truth is, when all around the world is white, it’s hard to tell where earth and sky meet.
February…. There’s an old saying—you love your kids, but fall in love with their children. So true. Who is more loveable than a precious grandchild? Wide-eyed and innocent, full of wonder, smiles, and affection, their love is unconditional. They accept you for who you are without criticism or passing judgment; and they tug at your heartstrings without even realizing the power they hold. When I hear Clare, at my home office door, quietly say . . . “Grandma?” . . . I am putty in her little hands.
“A grandchild fills a space in your heart you never knew was empty.”
March…. We are having an early spring with days that are unseasonably warm and sunny. Mother Nature is waking from her long winter sleep, and our yard is coming alive with color and wildlife. The air is fresh and clean. Birds are building nests, and the squirrels are coming out to play. Soon we’ll be seeing ducks and geese on our pond out back with their newborns. It’s time to do a little gardening, sit outside on the patio, and enjoy the simple pleasures this season of renewal has to offer. The beauty of spring is rebirth. Just as the earth comes out of its winter sleep, my spirit is once again renewed and filled with hope.
April…. Spring is officially here in Ohio, and we are enjoying sunshine and warm weather with the intermittent showers that come with the season. Around this time last year we were making final preparations for our trip to Wyoming. It’s a whole other world there. Spring arrives more slowly, and it’s not unusual for snow to fall in the mountains in April and May. Mother Nature takes her sweet time and can be treacherous. She paints the landscape in lustrous shades of green—emerald, chartreuse, vibrant teal, and forest— against a backdrop of red earth, rocky mountain ranges, and powder blue sky . . . and gives you fair warning. Dark clouds loom on the horizon, shrouding the highest peaks in mystery. Will it snow?
May…. Tom and I awoke this morning to the sweet song of chickadees and morning doves cooing outside our bedroom window.
It is near heaven on earth when the sky is blue and the air smells clean and fresh. We opened the windows to let gentle breezes and the scent of lilacs float through the house. Ah, lilacs . . . their fragrance is one of my favorites and calls to mind a gentle, more-romantic era.
Recently, Tom and I enjoyed an historic home walking tour that took us back in time. Part of the tour was a huge, brick Victorian on Main Street (circa 1888), which we had passed many times on our drives through town. I always wondered what it was like inside. I was surprised and pleased. Restored to its former glory, its rooms are big, bright, and airy. Tall ceilings. Polished wood. Period décor and furniture. A lovely, gracious home where I can easily imagine ladies gathering for afternoon tea in the parlor.
June 2012…. In the country, the evening sky stretches as far as the eye can see. It surrounds you in shades of blue with clouds awash in watercolor hues of pale lavender, misty rose, and fuchsia. The sun . . . a bright golden glow . . . is blinding as it sinks into the horizon past fields of corn and wheat. It is slow to set; yet it comes as a surprise when you realize the clouds have vanished, melting into the colors of the sky as it deepens . . . navy to indigo to black . . . until it is suddenly dark. There’s nothing quite like the quiet calm of nighttime in the country where all you hear is silence.
Except, perhaps, at the shore where the sun falls off the edge of the world and waves lap in a soothing rhythm . . . in and out, in and out, in and out . . . lulling you to sleep.
July…. The summer days have been long and exceedingly hot. In fact, we’ve been having extreme weather with fierce storms and record-breaking heat. It is over 100 degrees in the shade—enough to melt an ice cube in minutes.
“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.” —Celia Thaxter
Happy are the sunflowers that bask in the heat and the sun’s warm glow. Healthy and thriving, they turn their smiling faces to heaven.
August…. Deep summer always brought the kind of laziness that had us children lying in the grass, staring up at the clouds, imagining we saw faces in them.
“What we remember from childhood, we remember forever—permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.” —Cynthia Ozick
We were city kids. The closest we came to country on a regular basis were visits to my grandparent’s house not far from where we lived. They had a pond, a huge vegetable garden with winding paths and arbors, strawberry patches and berry bushes, tall cherry trees behind the garage, and a long greenhouse—always hot and humid—filled with flowering plants and the orchids my dad loved to grow.
For us, my grandparent’s yard was new and exciting territory just waiting to be explored. In reality, what appeared to be a whole world of wonder was less than an acre of land that looked unbelievably small when I saw it again as an adult.
September…. There was a blue moon in the last hours of August ushering in this new month. Though not really blue, it glowed bright yellow and gold like the tips of the leaves on the trees in our yard.
“The leaves of the Japanese maple
are changing color, there’s a tang in the air some evenings, and apples are so crisply sweet that you do a double-take after the first bite.” —Anne Lamott
It’s hard to believe we are already nine months into, what used to be, the New Year. The days are getting shorter, yet we have been busier than ever.
This time every year we make a point of going to the Michigan Renaissance Festival. It’s a feast for the senses, like stepping back in time, total relaxation, where you don’t have to think about anything but the sights and sounds around you. The knights in shining armor are especially fun to watch.
October…. October is golden. With the month, comes the year’s last hurrah as the landscape changes from the dull greens of late summer to a vibrant rush of red, orange, and yellow.
Our local park is ablaze with brilliant color. Tom and I usually take our little Schnauzers, Mitzi and Cody, for walks in the park. Not this year. Mitzi gave birth to Cody’s pup just two weeks ago, and we are careful not to separate mom from her baby for too long. These days we take Mitzi and Cody on short walks down the street and around the block. They enjoy the sights, sounds, and every single smell along the way. We enjoy their excitement and the beauty of the season. It’s a win-win situation. We look forward to the day when our grand-pup can join us . . . one big, happy family. Our nest no longer feels empty.
November…. There is a story in my head about a young American girl coming of age during the late-1960s. It’s my story, but not. More fiction than fact, it reflects the gentle haze of my carefree girlhood—the friends I had, the life we knew, and how the Vietnam War changed everything.
“There is a stage you reach . . . a time somewhere in early middle age, when your past ceases to be about yourself. Your connection to your former life is like a dream or delirium, and that person who you once were is merely a fond acquaintance, or a beloved character from a storybook.” —Dan Chaon, Stay Awake
Thinking about the 1960’s fills me with memories, and I sometimes long for that more-gentle era. We are now so inundated with information, technology, noise, clutter, and things to do in our daily lives, the peace of a quiet evening at home would be a welcome change. Life was simpler then . . . or was it? In the rosy glow of nostalgia the past looks perfect, but we didn’t think it was at the time.
December…. We have not had snow yet or very cold days. It has, in fact, been rather unseasonably warm for this time of year. I’m hoping for a white Christmas. Without snow, it’s just not the same.
For some snow is unwelcome, a winter event they would rather do without. For me snow brings peace, a sense of time standing still, intricate flakes blanketing the earth, and quiet evenings at home before the fire. If you happen to go out into it, especially in the country, the silence is profound.
Original artwork by Tom Schmidt. Copyright © Tom Schmidt. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Tom’s artwork is available for sale at Fine Art America.